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Paris Match article on the Belgium UFO sightings

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The following was given to me by Mark Rodeghier / Center for UFO
Studies, 2457 W. Peterson Ave., Chicago, IL. 60659. Any comment
in brackets [] is mine. BB


The Ufological wit and wisdom of Bob Durant or, the material I
prepared for the New Jersey MUFON Newsletter but they wouldn't

* * *

PARIS MATCH is a slick French weekly something like a classy
cross between TIME and PEOPLE MAGAZINE. It is very widely read
and something of a journalistic institution. Although the reader
can count on the latest gossip concerning Charles and Lady Di,
each issue also contains serious coverage of political and
scientific issues.
Thanks to the linguistic abilities of my wife, I have
translated an astonishing article that appeared in the July 5,
1990 issue. This recounts a series of sightings of a UFO over
Belgium. There were thousands of witnesses, and the object was
tracked simultaneously by two ground radar installations and by
the airborne intercept radars of two F-16 fighters sent to chase
But by far the most significant aspect of this case is that
the Belgium government released all the data and worked in close
cooperation with a civilian UFO research organization. To the
best of my knowledge, this is unique in the history of ufology.
Indeed it is the "political" aspect that prodded me to take
the considerable time and effort to make this translation
available to ufologists in the U.S. Please "network" this
document as you see fit, remembering that the article (but not my
translation) is copyrighted.


BOB (signed)

R.J. Durant

* * *

by Marie-Theresa De Brosses

The Belgium Defense Minister authorized us to publish this
report. It is the "scoop of the sky." These two screens (see
photos) [The article is referring to two photos of the radar
screens in the F-16 which are derived from an internal recording
device in the plane. Photo one shows the UFO as a diamond on the
screen framed by short vertical lines indicating that the pilot
has instructed the computer to follow the target. The comparison
of the two photos supports statements by the pilots that the UFO
dove from 2,000 meters (7,000 ft) to 00, indicating that it was
below the 200 meter limit on the radar. This occurred in ONE
second.] are the incontestable witnesses of a meeting of science
& fiction. In an unprecedented action, the Belgium Air Force has
released pictures of the radar images of UFOs intercepted by the
pilots of their F-16 fighters. It was the precision and clarity
of the pictures that convinced the Defense Minister to order full
resources deployed in the gigantic chase of the UFO during the
Easter weekend. PARIS MATCH takes you behind the symbols and
numbers of these exceptional pictures to discover the incredible
performance of those flying objects which are very real but
nonetheless unidentified. We may not be the only ones in the
There are people in the military services who are normally
silent on this subject but who now say: the UFOs are not a myth.
On June 22nd, for the first time in history, an Air Force
revealed an important piece of this story which is not science
On this day, after going through a meticulous security
screening, I find myself in the headquarters of the Belgium Air
Force near Brussels. In a small room, Colonel DeBrouwer, Chief of
Operations of the Belgium Air Force, started a video tape
recorder. On the screen appeared the film that was brought back
in the "black box" of the F-16 that was launched to chase the
UFO. This, it turned out, was not really the important chase,
which would happen two weeks later, when practically all of
Belgium tried to capture the UFO. But until now we were not told
about the one Colonel DeBrouwer was about to describe.
The Belgium military had been on alert since November 1989,
when numerous reports by the Gendarmerie (National police force)
began pouring in daily telling of observations of UFOs above
Belgium territory. It had started on the crazy night of November
29, 1989, during which 30 groups of witnesses, among them three
police patrols, scattered over 800 square kilometers of territory
between Liege and the German/Netherlands border, reported UFOs.
All of the witnesses observed for hours a strange triangular
object nearly silent, maneuvering at low speed and very low
altitude, without creating the least amount of turbulence.
As do the world's Air Forces, the Belgian military have at
their disposal supersonic interceptor airplanes ready 24 hours a
day to take off with five minutes notice. In this case we are
talking about two F-16 single pilot fighters, armed with
missiles. Headquarters was prudent and conservative. During the
previous month the two planes have twice been sent in response to
sightings but without results. The first time they saw nothing.
The second instance was attributed to an advertising searchlight
for a night club.
On the night of March 30th, one of the callers reporting a UFO
was a Captain of the national police at Pinson, and Headquarters
decided to make a serious effort to verify the reports. In
addition to the visual sightings, two radar installations also
saw the UFO. One radar is at Glons, southeast of Brussels, which
is part of the NATO defense group, and one at Semmerzake, west of
the Capitol, which controls the military and civilian traffic of
the entire Belgian territory. The range of the two radars is 300
KM, which is more than enough to cover the area where the reports
took place. In this region the land is fairly flat, rolling
country without any prominent hills. The radar has a perfect
view of all flying objects with an altitude above 200 meters over
the ground. Nevertheless, Headquarters determined to do some very
precise studies during the next 55 minutes to eliminate the
possibility of prosaic explanations for the radar images.
Excellent atmospheric conditions prevailed, and there was no
possibility of false echoes due to temperature inversions.
All military and civilian airplanes are equipped with a device
called a transponder which permits their immediate identification
on the radar screen in the form of a coded signal. The radar echo
received on that night was like that of an airplane that was
moving at very low speed, about 50 KPH, and frequently changing
direction and altitude. But it did not send any identifying
transponder signal.
Naturally, the Belgian Air Force can't permit an unidentified
object to fly over its territory. So at 0005 hours the order was
given to the F-16s to take off and to find the intruder. The lead
pilot concentrated on his radar screen, which at night is his
best organ of vision. The F-16 is equipped with very
sophisticated equipment, including chase radar, which is not
fixed directly ahead of the airplane, but makes a wide search in
an arc of 90 degrees left and right of the nose. Slightly behind
the lead fighter, the wingman in the second F-16 followed the
movements of the first jet, concentrating on maintaining contact
with the center of coordination of the search.
Suddenly the two fighters spotted the intruder on their radar
screens, appearing like a little bee dancing on the scope. Using
their joy sticks like a video game, the pilots ordered the
onboard computers to pursue the target. As soon as lock-on was
achieved, the target appeared on the screen as a diamond shape,
telling the pilots that from that moment on the F-16s will remain
tracking the object automatically. On the screen is indicated the
object's position, distance and speed. The object was very close
to the fighters.
On this portion of the video tape that Col. DeBrouwer has, in
such an exceptional manner, allowed us to see, we can hear the
radio exchange of the two pilots. The emotions of the pilots are
clearly perceptible. "Look," the Colonel tells me stopping the
VCR, and showing me the diamond shape on the screen, "At this
stage in the chase in our military jargon it means a successful
Then I said, in layman's terms, what does a "successful
interception" mean? He answered, "Our fighter planes are armed
with automatically self-directed missiles. Once they are launched
internal computers in the missiles intelligently guide the
missiles to the target by themselves. Of course, in this case of
the UFO there was no question of doing that. We only wanted to
identify the intruder."
The pilot did not even have time to start this procedure,
which requires the fighter's radar to stay locked on for at least
six seconds. But the object had speeded up from an initial
velocity of 280 KPH to 1,800 KPH, while descending from 3,000
meters to 1,700 meters...in one second! This fantastic
acceleration corresponds to 40 Gs. [A "G" is a unit of
acceleration. One G is equivalent to the gravitational pull of
the earth, 9.81 m/sec/sec.] It would cause immediate death to a
human on board. The limit of what a pilot can take is about 8 Gs.
And the trajectory of the object was extremely disconcerting. It
arrived at 1,700 meters altitude, then it dove rapidly toward the
ground at an altitude under 200 meters, and in doing so escaped
from the radars of the fighters and ground units at Glons and
Semmerzake. This maneuver took place over the suburbs of
Brussels, which are so full of man-made lights that the pilots
lost sight of the object beneath them.
"In any event, it was out of the question for the F-16 to
catch up with the object at this low altitude, where the density
of the air limits the speed to 1,300 KPH. Above that speed, the
temperature in the compressors of the jet turbines would cause
the engines to burst," said Col. DeBrouwer. "There was a logic
behind the motions of the object."
Everything indicates that this object was intelligently
directed to escape from the pursuing planes. During the next
hours the scenario repeated twice. The Commander of the Belgian
Air Force gave me a detailed report which had been produced by
the Belgian Society For The Study of Special Phenomena (Sobeps)
in cooperation with the Air Force. The report states: "In three
cases the pilots managed to get their radar locked on the object,
with the immediate result that the object's behavior drastically
changed. The object literally played hide and seek with the
fighters. It dived toward the ground to evade the airborne and
ground radars. Then it climbed back into radar range in a
leisurely manner, thus initiating a new chase.
This fantastic game of hide and seek was observed from the
ground by a great number of witnesses, among them 20 national
policemen who saw both the object and the F-16s. The encounter
lasted 75 minutes, but nobody heard the supersonic boom which
should have been present when the object flew through the sonic
barrier. No physical damage was reported. Given the low altitude
and the speed of the object, many windows should have been
So, for the first time in history, a newspaper reporter was
allowed to see a document which established proof of an
interception of a UFO by a military fighter. I have seen on the
video screen the flight maneuvers and the extraordinary changes
in speed of the UFO.
All the details of this affair are related in the report which
has just been released by Sobeps. This collaboration between the
Air Force of a nation and a private research group is without
precedent and must be taken very seriously. Also, the competence
of the civilian researchers is worthy of trust. This group
includes several scientists with excellent credentials such as
physicist Leo Brenig, Professor at the University of Brussels and
August Meesen, Professor at the Catholic University of Louvain,
who has belonged to Sobeps since its creation 18 years ago. On a
television interview, Mr. Guy Coeme the Minister of Defense,
declared that he had authorized the AIr Force to release all
information at their disposal to Sobep.
After having seen this dramatic sequence, I posed a number of
questions to Col. DeBrouwer. First, could the object have been a
radiosonde balloon?
"No, the object acted as if it was totally independent of the
winds, and we have done, among other things, a complete review of
meteorological conditions. This is why we did not publish the
report until now. We wanted to do a complete study to verify all
aspects of the case. Our military defense system is not prepared
for this sort of thing. We had to analyze and interpret the data
from the recording inside the fighters."
Is it a natural phenomenon, or perhaps the debris from rockets
or satellites or space junk? "No, a meteorite or a fragment of a
rocket does not enter the atmosphere in a zig zag fashion. The
analysis of the radar traces showed numerous changes in
direction, and the atmospheric conditions that prevailed
precluded any electromagnetic phenomenon as the cause."
But I asked how about the famous F-117 the American Stealth
airplane, which many people think may be responsible? "This
airplane is absolutely designed for penetration at low altitude.
On the other hand it has a minimum speed of 278 KPH and the UFOs
speed went down to 40 KPH. The F-117 does not have engines that
can be tilted down for very slow speed flight. Also no airplane
is capable of flying at 1,800 KPH or so low to the ground without
creating a sonic boom."
Then he gave me a telex sent by the Military Attache of the
U.S. Ambassador to the Commander of the Belgian Air Force
confirming that the Stealth airplane was never stationed on
European territory nor did it ever fly over that territory.
Professor Jean Pierre Petit accompanied me in my visit to the
Belgian Air Force Headquarters. He once served as a controller
for jet interception exercises. Petit is a senior physicist and a
director of research with the National Center for Scientific
Research of France. He has recently published a book entitled
"Investigation of UFOs," published by Editions Albin Michel, and
makes this strong statement:
"In reality, there is no machine made by man either an
airplane or a missile that is capable of such performance.
Specifically, flying at the speed of sound without making a sonic
boom. What degree of confidence can we place on this statement?
The same as that in Astrophysics connected with the first
detection of a Supernova in 1987 in the Magellanic Clouds
galactic group. Proof of the existence of this stellar cataclysm
we call a Supernova relies on this single unique observation. I
am completely convinced that this type of UFO observation by
radar has already happened many times over the past 30 years
either by means of the sophisticated radar of the F-16 which is
typical of that used by the world's air forces for the past ten
years or before that by conventional radar. And those countries
who have had radar contacts have kept the fact in strict secrecy
to avoid public panic."
But what is happening right now, what is the reason for this
sudden revelation of the truth?
"We are living in a time that is the beginning of a period of
openness. First the Berlin Wall Crumbled, now the wall of silence
about UFOs is falling. Concerning the UFOs we are entering a
phase completely different from the earlier ones. It is the end
of commercialism and fakery. The true scientists are finally
making their appearance. Look at the work of Professor Meesen."
"Sobeps has collected more than one thousand eyewitness
reports from the UFO wave over Belgium. One report is especially
interesting. On the night of March 31, at a location 30 KM
southeast of Brussels, three completely reliable witnesses had a
sighting. They were Lucien Clerebaut, Secretary General of
Sobeps, Patrick Ferrym, a Moving Picture Producer, and Jose
Fernandez. They observed a bright luminous light low on the
horizon. The light got bigger and closer, and was seen to be an
object of triangular form with rounded angles. It was carrying
four spotlights and the periphery of the object had numerous
smaller lights around it. As it passed over their heads at an
altitude which they estimated to be 300 to 400 meters, the object
had a diameter six times that of a full moon. Mr. Ferrym took
four pictures of the object with a very high sensitivity film
with an ASA of 1,600. As a control he photographed an ordinary
airplane several minutes later, using the same shutter opening
and speed."
"When the film was developed he got a surprise. The position
lights of the airplane were clearly shown on the pictures. But
the `spotlights' on the UFO, which to the naked eye had been much
stronger than the lights on the airplane, were hardly
discernible. The general form of the UFO, which had also been
clearly visible, was lost on the film. It should be noted that
the UFO was also much closer to the observers than the airplane."
Recalling that a simple infrared ray can prevent some films
from being exposed, Professor Meesen performed an experiment in
his laboratory. Using a prism, he projected directly on unexposed
film a spectrum of light, going from red to purple, superimposing
an infrared ray on the lower part of the negative. When the film
was developed, the spectrum of light is perfectly visible in the
portion of the film untouched by the infrared ray but
considerably attenuated, though not completely annihilated, where
the infrared light struck the film."
The Professor continued, "If the UFOs are really a physical
object, and if they propagate infrared light, it would be quite
normal that photographs would contain some surprises when they
were developed. This could include the total disappearance of the
object that had been observed visually. This would explain the
very low number of pictures that we have received in this UFO
wave as well as the failure to get close up pictures.
Professor Meesen remained very conservative. As a good
disciple of the famous scientist Claude Bernard, he is faithful
to the Scientific Method, which consists of observing facts, then
proposing hypotheses to explain the facts and finally
accomplishing experimental verification of the hypotheses. To him
it is absolutely essential to study this enigmatic file of UFO
reports: "There are too many independent eyewitness reports to
ignore. Too many of the reports describe coherent physical
effects and there is an agreement among the accounts concerning
what was observed. If all of these witnesses are lying, then it
is a mental disease of such novelty and proportions that it must
be studied. But of course there are also physical effects. The
Air Force report allows us to approach the problem in a rational
and scientific way. The simplest hypothesis is that the reports
are caused by extraterrestrial visitors, but that hypothesis
carries with it other problems. We are not in a rush to form a
conclusion, but also to study the mystery."
When I first met Prof. Meesen, he had not yet seen the
document that was shown to me by Col. DeBrouwer. This was the
Belgian Air Force report on the successful interceptions of March
30, which allowed us to understand why the military had placed at
the disposal of Sobep such facilities as the F-16 interceptors
and a twin engine Hawker airplane. The Hawker could carry a large
number of researchers and many measuring devices, including an
enormous infrared camera. During this eventful weekend, which
drew in tens of thousands of witnesses, the military had put top
priority on the UFO, but was remaining silent. They wanted to
know more before speaking.
The press was astonished by the "unsuccessful" hunt on this
Easter weekend. But it is all clear now. We could not say that
the UFO did not actually meet us, because there were many
observations from the ground. But if the device had stayed under
200 meters in altitude, it would have been undetectable by radar.
Now the sightings have dribbled off, the witnesses rarer and
rarer. But the questions still remain. How disconcerting this
wave of UFO sightings over Belgium! First of all, why Belgium?
Why these thousands of witnesses in a six month period? In
previous decades witnesses often described landings, but why were
there no landing reports? Why the triangular shape of the UFO,
reported by more than 90% of the witnesses? At the moment, all of
these are questions without an answer.
"For us, the release of this report by the Belgian Air Force
and the confidence in us that it bespeaks is the reward for 18
years of work," concluded Lucien Clerebaut of Sobeps.
Regardless of the frustrating irregularity of this phenomenon
(waves of sightings mixed with long periods of absence), and
regardless of the sarcasms of those scientists who are violently
hostile to this kind of investigation which they consider to be a
sort of scientific disease, a few eminent scientists such as
Professors Meesen, Brenig and Petit continue their methodical
Now is the time to help them.



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